I was recently interviewed by Mark Thompson for ‘The House of Comments’ podcast about my book ‘Save Democracy – Abolish Voting’.
I hope you find time to listen to it, but if you’re looking for a very short verbal summary of what it’s about (85 secs!), it can be found starting at 16min:20secs in (finishing at 17min:45secs).
We may have reached a point in history where the trajectory that democracy has taken needs to change dramatically, if it is to survive as a respected concept.
Most readers will have an idea of what is meant by the word “democracy”. In many cases, it will be a concept that is so indistinguishable from “electoral politics” that it seems almost contrarian to de-link the two. They’re plainly not the same thing. North Korea and Iran hold elections. On the other hand, very democratic bodies often, correctly, treat the point at which things need to go to a vote as an indictment of their failure to reach a deep consensus.
So much commentary that purports to be about quality of our democracy is, in reality, political advocacy cloaked in a flimsy ethical costume. A call for “a more democratic decision” is often a code for “I want the decision to be made in a way that is more likely to result in my preferred outcome”.
(This article was first published in The Ethical Record, Summer 2018 edition)
Please tell me which of these arguments do you disagree with?
1) Democracy is where the best-achievable consensus among the populace get the governance that they actually want to have over a period of time.
2) Electoral politics (with a few caveats in a good representative democracy) is where we all get the government that that the voters (often a minority) *say* they want on one particular day. It’s not exactly the same thing as “democracy”.
My latest, in The Independent today.
Now that my book has definitely been completed, this is probably the last time that these books will be in one place, so I thought I’d get a pic for posterity.
It’s not the definitive pile and others have already been scattered around the house, but it’s a representative cross-section.
Its been a very satisfying, if occasionally lonely and patience-straining process.
Using these titles is not necessarily an endorsement of their contents -particularly the Arriaga book…
Yesterday, in what was a big milestone for me, I handed in the final copy of the text of my book, which is provisionally titled ‘Save Democracy – Abolish Voting’.
It will be published at some point over the next month or so (date tbc) by The Democratic Society. It’s their first publication in a series entitled “Ideas of Democracy”, and I hope, the first of many.
In advance of the launch (you will be able to buy it in print or as an e-book), I’ll be posting a few samples here, but in the meantime, here’s the draft blurb from the back cover to give you a flavour of what to expect:
Picture Credit – featured image: Bookbinding – from here.
This is a short post that is intended to introduce a theme. I won’t develop it too much here (though I’ve filled it with links to posts that I, and others, have written that flesh out specific parts of the argument). I will be publishing something a lot more substantial on this shortly.
We are going through a period of political polarisation at the moment. The organised left may think that this is a good thing, but I have argued previously that this is a game that we are always going to lose at.
I’ve just published this:
“There is a direct link between [the failure of representative democracy] and the degree to which plebiscitary democracy is seen as being an acceptable option. The popularity of referendums is a symptom more than it is the cause of our current problems.”
If I could make a pitch to the whole of the centre-left on what I believe its future direction should be, this would be it.